elegant Woodlawn Vase, originally created by Tiffany and Company
in 1860 as a trophy for the now defunct Woodlawn Racing
Association in Louisville, is presented annually to the
The beautiful silver design assessed in 1983 for $1 million,
is easily the most valuable trophy in American sports.
Standing 34 inches tall and weighing 29 pounds, 12 ounces,
the Woodlawn vase has a colorful history as rich as the classic
race at which it is presented. It has been raced for in
Louisville, Elizabeth, N.J., the Coney Island Jockey Club,
Jerome Park, Morris Park, and since 1917, at Pimlico Race
Course. Created as a challenge cup, the Woodlawn Vase was first
won by Capt. T. G. Moore's mare, Mollie Jackson, in 1861. The
same owner retained possession the following year through the
victory of the famous mare Idlewind. The outbreak of the Civil
War prevented further competition until 1866. The vase in the
meantime was buried at Woodlawn with others of the Moore family
plate, lest it be discovered and melted into shot.
Following the war, the vase remained in Kentucky until 1878,
when the Dwyer brothers captured it by the aid of Bramble and
Jimmy McLaughlin in the American Stallion Stakes at Churchill
The Dwyer Brothers presented the vase to the Coney Island
Jockey Club, where notable stables of the day competed
vigorously for the vase for several years.
Later, it was twice competed for in 1894 at Jerome Park, and
then at Morris Park in 1901 and 1902.
C. Clyde, owner of Goughacres Stable, won possession through the
double victory of his homebred colt Shorthose in 1903 and 1904.
Shorthose was the only horse - with the exception of the
wonderful Miss Woodford - to win it twice.
In 1917, Mr. Clyde presented the vase to the Maryland Jockey
Club, of which he was a director. It was added to the Preakness
that year, though Clyde proposed a condition - the winning owner
should keep the vase for the year, and have the privilege of
naming the course and the stake for its renewal. Edward R.
Bradley's Kalitan was the first winner of the vase at Pimlico.
The vase was presented to the winning Preakness owner each
year - although the latter part of Clyde's condition did not
prevail - until 1953, when Alfred G. Vanderbilt's Native Dancer
won it. Due to the historic value of the legendary trophy, Mrs.
Vanderbilt preferred not to accept responsibility for the vase's
safekeeping until the next year's Preakness.
A smaller sterling silver replica, valued at $30,000,
requires twelve weeks of a silversmith's hand tooling by Kirk
Stieff, a division of Lenox. It is awarded to the winning owner
of the Preakness Stakes on a permanent basis. The perpetual is
on display at The Baltimore Museum of Art and is brought to
Pimlico Race Course under guard for the annual running of the
The following is an excerpt from Wilkes Spirit of The Times,
The American Gentleman's Newspaper 1867:
Tiffany & Co., the celebrated jewelers, on Tuesday last sent to
Louisville, KY a massive silver vase, for the Woodlawn Race
Course Association, one of the most elegant of the kind ever
made in this city. Its entire height is 36 inches, its weight is
four hundred ounces, and its value $1,500. The base of this
piece is a circle thirteen inches in diameter, supported upon a
cross, then four projections of which are faced each with a race
shoe; and on the top of each projection is a racing saddle,
whip, jockey cap, etc. The upper part of the base represents a
lawn, divided into fields by a rustic fence. In one field is
seen a stallion and in the other a mare and foal. On either side
of the pillar is a bulletin, on which the rules to be observed
in contending for the prize are distinctly engraved. The
centerpiece, or bowl, is fourteen inches above the base, and
fourteen inches in diameter, and has four shields. On one of
these is engraved the picture of a race horse, on another a
representations of the Woodlawn Race Course, on another is a
blank for the history of the winning of the prize, and the other
also blank for a portrait of the winner. Between the shields are
four figures of Victory, in frosted silver, each holding a
wreath in either hand. Seven inches above the bowl is a circular
ornament nine inches in diameter, having engraved on it the
portraits of eight officers of the Woodlawn Race Course
Association. The whole is surmounted by a full figure of the
horse "Lexington", mounted by a jockey in costume. The rules
under which this prize is to be contended for are such that a
man who wins it on the first trial (which is to occur on
Saturday, the 18th instant) is to give bonds to produce the Vase
for future trials; and no one is entitled to it without giving
such bonds, until he has won it three successive times. There
are four challengers for the Vase, who name their horses to the
post. We hope to hear the result in time for our next paper."